The challenge of scaling up participatory deliberation

Although challenging, large-scale participatory deliberation is feasible. Formal institutions can assure it in practice. However, neither of the usual alternatives can solve by themselves the issue at stake. A deliberative approach of main representative institutions becomes elitist as it neglects massive deliberation. Theories of exceptional massive deliberation do well in recognising the possibility but fall short by rejecting day-to-day citizen engagement. Minipublics may become a shortcut that undermines the flourishment of massive deliberation. Aggregative participation allows massiveness, but it poorly performs a meaningful engagement of ordinary citizens. Finally, deliberative systems theory assures democratic legitimacy by adding up a referendum to the decision-making cycle. Despite the people have the final word; the non-participants in the minipublic do not have improved their deliberative stance. In this scenario, a call for new institutional choices is crucial.